18 inspired ways to reconnect with your identity outside of motherhood

This morning on my weekly mothers group run, a new mother joined us.

She joined the group even though she didn’t know anyone, she had not slept the previous night, it was 35 degrees out and she is not a morning person. She ran with our pacesetter and it did not seem to faze her. She was happy to be outside, grateful to experience “happy morning people” and proud that she had stuck to her New Year’s resolution to run.

I remember this feeling. Proud just to get out of bed. Proud to do one thing for myself that I used to do regularly before becoming a mother. This feeling is important because it brings you back to your own center and reminds you of who you are.

The transition to motherhood is so complex + extraordinary that it touches every aspect of our lives.

We are forever changed. Some of these changes are so profound that we may lose touch with our center while we focus our attention on birthing, bonding with our infant and caring for one or multiple babies. Every day we are expanding ourselves to include our role as a mother.

This evolutionary process of becoming a mother includes a dramatic shift in time, focus, lifestyle, finances and relationships. For most of us it is not a straightforward progression, and there are very few resources to help us along. Problems can arise when we focus too much of our energy on the well-being of others and not enough on ourselves. When things get difficult to manage and you find yourself stressed out, a bit of self-care can help maintain your sanity and balance.

One place to start is to reach out to the “old you” and do something that used to make you smile and feel just a bit more alive.

This can take 10 minutes or two hours, but make sure you set aside the time and set the intention to do it.

After doing this, you will find yourself back in control, in charge and replenished with energy to continue with whatever the day brings you.

Here are some examples pulled together from fellow moms + mentors:

• Use a symbol that reminds you to say “yes” to yourself

• Get a pedicure

• Watch your favorite movie

• Practice yoga

• Read a favorite book

• Walk on the beach

• Play your own music in the car

• Take a 10-minute “time out”

• Go to lunch with a friend

• Go for a solo hike

• Meditate

• Browse in a store for nothing in particular

• Dance

• Go to a museum or art show

• Take an early morning exercise class without childcare

• Go for a long run

• Play tennis

• Make yourself a meal that only you like

As mothers, we must work to put ourselves back in the center of our lives.

I promise you that if the new you does something just for yourself, the former you will be waiting there with a smile.

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


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My belly has been through some things.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yep, severe debilitating pregnancy-related vomiting), the pregnancies of each of my four kids, the 65 pounds of weight gain I have endured with each pregnancy, stretch marks, Occupational Therapy for pregnancy pelvic pain, unmedicated childbirth, and of course, postpartum recovery.

It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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Because parenthood is challenging, we can sometimes forget how to just be happy in the midst of it all.

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